Andre Dirrell beats Jose Uzcategui by eight-round disqualification
Former two-time super middleweight title challenger Andre Dirrell picked up the interim IBF title with a disqualification victory after being knocked out by a punch from Jose Uzcategui that landed a split second after the bell ended Round 8 of what had been a competitive bout on Saturday in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
The manner in which the fight ended, and the chaos inside and outside of the ring that ensued, was reminiscent of Dirrell’s disqualification victory over Arthur Abraham in 2010. Abraham hit Dirrell while the Flint, Michigan native was on the canvas in that bout, which was part of the Super Six World Boxing Classic 168-pound tournament. Dirrell suffered recurring neurological problems after that fight and had to withdraw from the Super Six.
The 34-year-old 2004 Olympic bronze medalist took his time with returning to boxing and won five bouts after the Abraham debacle before dropping a close unanimous decision to James DeGale in 2015. That was Dirrell’s only bout of 2015 and the ultra-fast and talented switch-hitter only fought once in 2016.
Thus, he appeared rusty in the early rounds against Uzcategui, a 26-year-old Venezuelan boxer-puncher who had won four bouts (including a second-round KO of undefeated prospect Julius Jackson in 2015) since the only loss of his pro career, a decision to then-unbeaten Matt Korobov in 2014.
Uzcategui, who lived and trains in Tijuana, got the better of Dirrell in the first four rounds with his forward-marching aggression and rangy power hitting. But Dirrell, who appeared buzzed into the ropes in Round 2, gradually found his bearings and boxed well from a distance in Rounds 5 and 6. Uzcategui had moments when he crowded Dirrell against the ropes in Round 7 and appeared to finally corner the speedster at the end of Round 8 when he landed a hook off a Dirrell jab, but his unfortunate follow-up hook landed right after the bell and referee Bill Clancy did not believe that it was an inadvertent foul.
“It was a knockout by an illegal punch,” Clancy told Showtime’s Jim Gray after the bout. “(Uzcategui) was clearly warned for late hitting earlier in the bout and I warned him at the end of (Round 8).”
Dirrell, to his credit, hugged repentant Uzcategui as soon as he was able to get to his feet. He told Uzcategui that he forgave him but emotional members of his family and team were less forgiving and began battling with Uzcategui’s corner and security that wouldn’t allow them in the ring. One member of Dirrell’s team, uncle Leon Lawson Jr., that made it into the ring punched Uzcategui in the face (after pretending to talk to Uzcategui’s trainer). The post-fight melee was unfortunate because it was not what Dirrell wanted or needed.
“I remember hearing the bell and after that it’s jut a blurry vision,” Dirrell said of the knockout. “But I forgive him. I love Uzcategui and his camp.”
Dirrell said he wants to get back into the ring as soon as he’s medically cleared to do so.